1974: The 56th Convention – Celebrating 100 Years

Delegates arriving at Convention 1974.

The Centennial Convention, the Sorority’s 56th, was held June 14-17, 1974, at the new Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. More than had ever gathered before, there were 800 full-time registrants, and more than 1,000 took part in some of the events or stopped in to greet old friends.

Everyone arrived at the “School Daze” birthday dinner on the second evening dressed in the fashions typical of their own college years. The 11-minute centennial film, produced and directed by Joyce Brooke Overhoff (Michigan State), was played and a copy made available to each of the chapters. Each of the former Grand Presidents cut a slice from an enormous birthday cake and as the dinner closed the March of the Confirmed Conventioneers began as Gamma Phi Betas who had attended more than five conventions marched among the tables, their hats decked to overflowing with paper carnations. A thousand brightly colored balloons, emblazoned with Gamma Phi Beta Centennial, were released over the Kansas City area.

Eleven hundred attended the Pink Carnation Banquet in the gigantic ballroom on the last night of the Convention. Honored guests included Alida Moss Skinner (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1915), daughter of Frances Haven Moss, and Lois Cobb Smith (Syracuse, 1918), daughter of Charles Cobb, one of the designers of the Gamma Phi Beta badge. The Carnation Award was introduced to honor those women who have achieved regional or national distinction outside the Sorority.

In “The Gift from Syracuse” – one of Gamma Phi Beta’s published history books – author Charlotte Hamilton Mason (Michigan, 1934) wrote, “There was many a misty eye during the long period of silence while the 1,100 Gamma Phi Betas counted off in the closing ceremony that marked the end of this historic gathering.”

At the 1974 Convention, each former Grand President cut a slice from a huge birthday cake to celebrate Gamma Phi Beta’s 100th birthday.